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June Monthly EV Meetup

This month we came back to the bistro/cafe inside the Courtyard by Marriott in Cocoa Beach.  We like to show them how much extra business the free charging stations they have in their parking lot attracts by having some of our meetings there.  That’s  one of the main ideas behind our monthly meetups.  Not only do we get to meet any new members and talk electric vehicle tech, we also get to show local businesses the growing number of electric vehicles that are waiting to charge up while parked and spend money at their business.  Each month we meet at a different location with charging stations so contact us to get added to the email list or check our upcoming events page.  Not only will installing a charging station at your business attract extra EV-driving customers, but it will also increase the time we stay there.  This normally turns into extra sales or in the case of a restaurant, a dessert or extra coffee.  Read more about the different types of charging stations and reasons to install them at your business on our charging station info page.

We are starting our planning for this year’s National Drive Electric Week event in Satellite Beach so make sure to register to attend or volunteer to help and most of all tell your friends!  We are going to try to get well over 50 electric vehicles this year or as close to 100 as possible.  We have almost 100 EVs just in our group alone!  As of this last meeting, here’s our membership numbers:

Total EVs:
95
Total Members:
108
EV Models:
RAV 4 EV 1
Nissan Leaf 23
Mitsubishi iMiEV 2
Ford Fusion Energi 0
Chevy Volt 25
Ford Focus EV 2
Tesla Roadster 1
Tesla Model S 13
Ford CMax Energi 2
Plug in Prius 2
BMW i3 2
BMW i8 1
Tesla Model X 3
Zero S Motorcycle 1
Chevy Spark EV 2
Toyota Celica Conversion 1
Austin Healey Conversion 1
Fiat 500e 1
Kia Soul EV 1
Zero FXS Motorcycle 1
GotWay MCM2s 1
Chevy Bolt 4
Ford Escape Plug in 1
Honda Clarity Plug in Hybrid 1
Zero DS Motorcycle 1
Tesla Model 3 2

Did You Know? You Can Buy A Used EV

If you are like me, you would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV), but the price of a new one is just not in the cards.  You like the low cost of operation, but not the price of a new vehicle.

So we share the desire to save money and own an EV.  So let me share how we purchased a 2014 Nissan Leaf S with 35K for $6750 in November 2017, a 2012 Chevrolet Volt Premium with 112K for $6,200 in March 2018, and then sold our last gas car in May 2018.

2014Leaf

Why The Leaf?

Research, Research, Research.  We did a lot of research. You can study on the web, or reach out to any EV club and begin discussing your thoughts and needs.  EV club members can share their stories, and give you insight and questions to help determine which car is for you. I do not think a dealer is a good place to go for accurate information — yet.

We wanted an all electric commuter car with enough range to get us to and from work for the next 3-5 years. By then more cars and battery options will be available to get another car or extend this one. We wanted 35 miles a day.  The Nissan Leaf fit the bill nicely. We learned the models prior to 2013 had battery issues in hot climates like Florida. The 2013 was the oldest car with a reasonable battery. The older the car, the lower the price — something we needed.  We searched cars.com and craigslist daily to get a sense for the condition and pricing of our target cars until we settled in on a target of about 7K for a Leaf S with about 35-45K miles with 11 of 12 battery strength bars.

The Leaf did not get a battery heating/cooling system until 2018 (for a power price), but in Florida this causes battery degradation. It was not likely to lose 50% capacity over the 3-5 years we wanted the car. The 2013 has 83 miles on the full 12 bars of battery capacity, so even at one half we are still good. By then, technology and pricing should allow for other options to fix or get another car. This is a commuter car, so we would use our gas car if we wanted to go on a long trip. In October 2017, the 2013 used Leaf S provided the lowest priced used EV which became our target car.

How We Bought The Leaf

We search cars.com and craiglist to record and visit any potentially good cars.  Owners of a private sale are good because you can get a feel for how they took care of the car and what maintenance was done. If you and the seller agree on a target price, run a carfax.com on the VIN# and/or take the care into a dealership for a complete checkup. You can agree in advance to lower the price of the car by the dollar amount of repairs needed. If you like the car after all this, buy it.

Private sales are fairly easy. Cash or cashiers checks work well for fast transactions. We did cash. Have them sign over the paper title and both of you fill out a bill of sale (Google it for your state).  Call your insurance to get the car covered, then go to the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to do the tax, title, and registration. You can even do the entire transaction at the DMV to be sure it is all good before literally handing over the cash.

A dealer sale is even easier, but you will pay about $850 more in dealer fees (in Florida). We prefer the private sales, but the dealers are easier.

We were about to buy a 2013 Leaf from a dealer, when we saw a 2014 on craigslist with 35K for $7,500. We targeted 7K for the car, got the cash, and visited the owner to see the car. It was well cared for, but it was their last car and their family of 3 kids was moving out of the country in 2 weeks.  He had an electronic title and it was the weekend. The electronic title requires both parties to go to the DMV to complete the transaction. We agreed on 7K, put money down on it, and wrote up an agreement to buy the car at a DMV a few days before they were to leave the US. The owner later discounted the car to $6,750 to pay for the rental car he did not have to rent.  The DMV transaction was smooth and efficient. If you always treat the seller and the DMV with respect and understanding, you will get the best results. Be honest, share with the buyer your situation and needs. Listen and empathize with their situation and needs. Try to meet between both of your needs and theirs. Help each other to achieve both your goals.

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Why The Volt?

About 4 months after buying the Leaf, we were completely hooked on driving electric. Owning a gas car seemed to be more and more silly over time. All the additional costs of maintaining a late model gas car compared to an EV was becoming very obvious.  In fact, just to be absurd, try to sell a gas car to an EV owner. They would say, why would I buy something with so many moving parts that is so expensive to operate and maintain? Are you nuts?

In talking with members of our local EV club, it appeared that a first generation Chevy Volt was a good fit for our long distance needs. It drives like a pure EV for the first 35 to 40 miles (depending on how you drive), and then a gas generator kicks in for the next 350 miles (Range Extended EV). It has less moving parts than a gas car, but more than a pure EV (like our Leaf). The Volt will need oil changes and transmission fluid, but not as often when you run in pure EV mode as we do. At the time we looked, the only other option was the BMW I3, but it was still too expensive for us. We decided the Volt was our next car.

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How We Bought The Volt

We began researching cars.com and craigslist for pricing and condition. We decided that a 2012 with just over 100K miles (warranty expires) would have the lowest price and still have quality.  The Volt has examples of going over 400K miles on original brakes and no battery degradation (unlike the Leaf). If distance beyond the EV miles is an issue for you, consider the Volt over the pure EV Leaf.  If distance is not an issue, the added maintenance of Volt (or similar range extended EV) may not be worth it. For us, the 2012 was the first year with one touch door unlock. Great for when your hands are full.  We discovered that about 7K to 8K for a good car was possible, but in short supply. We wanted a 6K car, and that was difficult to impossible. It was clear we were going to be looking for a while.

We planned a trip for spring break that was over 800 miles and hoped to find a Volt before the trip. We settled on seeing a car in south Florida, and the night before that visit, I received an email responding to my craigslist (Wanted 2012 Volt) ad that I posted throughout the state.  The young Navy man was about to be deployed for 6 months and wanted to sell the car before that. His target date and ours were the same. I called him, and the car was in better overall condition than the one in south Florida. I cancelled the south Florida visit and the dealership checkout.

The Navy man’s Volt was an immaculate 2012 Volt Premium with every amenity and 112K miles for 7,000. He knew my target was 6K and said we would likely be able to work something out. The test drive was excellent, and we negitated to $6,500 minus anything the vehicle checkup found. It turned out it needed about $300 of maintenance, so the price was agreed at $6,200.

He had a loan on the car with a bank, and as it turned out we both had deposit accounts with that bank, so we completed the transaction at the bank as follows. We filled out a bill of sale, I paid the bank officer the purchase price of the car. They paid off the loan and deposit the rest into his account. The bank gave me a letter showing I was the next owner of the car that I could used at the DMV to get a temp tag to drive it home. I called my insurance to get the car insured and get a proof of insurance for the DMV. The bank mailed the title to his wife (who could legally sign the title) and overnight it to us. Once it arrived, we went to the DMV to handle the taxes, title, and registration.

Summary

If you are looking to buy an EV (new or used), I recommend you find your local EV club and begin talking with them to help determine what car or cars are best for you. Many clubs let you join (often for free) even if you do not have an EV. This is a great way to immerse yourself in EVs without the pressure or inaccuracies often found at dealerships.  At the end of the EV club meetings, almost every EV car may be in the parking lot. Sadly, as of the writing of this article, our local dealers have virtually no one who understands EVs.

We bought the Leaf as a commuter car, not a long distance car.  We already had a second car that could be used for long trips. Since we do long distance trips 3 to 5 times a year, having a distance car was important. If you only go on one trip a year, consider renting a car just for that trip. We could not afford a newer EV with a 250 or 350 mile range. If you can, explore a long range EV. If you can’t afford a pure EV with the range you need, consider a range extended EV (like the Volt). Again, use your local EV club members to guide you, and use cars.com or craigslist to help you. They are not there to sell you anything, just share their experiences and let that inform you. Knowledge will help you.

steps

Tips

  • Research to find which car is best for you, then determine the year and features desired.
  • Scan craigslist and cars.com daily.
  • Contact the seller and ask questions (including the VIN)
  • If reasonable, get the carfax using the VIN
  • Do more research if carfax shows something.
  • Get a KBB value for this car to bring to the seller
  • Print your state’s bill-of-sale form to bring with you
  • Bring cash (if reasonable and possible). They are more willing to negotiate when they see you have cash.
  • Visit the car and seller
  • Agree to a price to buy the car and the deductions if issue are found by the dealer
  • Have it checked by a dealer
  • Discuss the findings with the seller and agree to the deducted price.
  • Fill out the bill of sale
  • On paper title, have them sign over the title
  • On electronic title, visit the DMV together to finish the sale.
  • Get insurance before you drive it home or visit the DMV.

March EV Meetup Recap

We had our March 2018 meetup at the old Moon Hut in Cape Canaveral, now called La Fiesta.  Real astronauts ate here!  We had a special guest from the city of Cape Canaveral join us and talk about all the new charging stations installed by the city.  We asked how they got the city to install the FREE to use charging stations instead of the more expensive to purchase and operate ones that require you to swipe an RFID card to pay.  He explained that the city understands that by giving away the 50 cents or a few bucks of electricity they will bring many times that in economic bonuses since EV owners will visit the local shops and restaurants while they wait for their car to charge.  We urged the city to spread word to every other city as that is the way to go!  We all agreed that we will all be spending more time in Cape Canaveral because of those free chargers.  He said that we could talk to other cities and send them their way and they would explain it all to them.  So if you’re listening, Melbourne, Satellite Beach, Palm Bay, and every other city out there – talk to Cape Canaveral!  We have over 100 members now and growing every month.  These electric vehicles are the way of the future so it would help to get started now instead of waiting to catch up with your charging infrastructure!  You can use our Charging Station Info page on our website to help answer most of your questions.  You can also contact us and use us as a resource to help answer all of your questions about driving electric.  We do it every day and love it!20180304_153824

Satellite Beach Founders Day

We had a great time talking to hundreds of people about electric vehicles at the Satellite Beach Founders Day event.  There were vendors, crafts and food all inside the Schechter Center and in the whole parking lot.  We had four EVs on display today (out of 86 total cars in our club).  We didn’t have enough to roll quietly in the parade around town like we did last time, but it was still a successful event.

Everyone was pleasantly surprised to hear how the Chevy Volt can drive on $18 per month of electricity and about 4 gallons of gas every 3 months (if you take longer trips).  They also were delighted when we showed them just how many charging stations there are on the plugshare.com map.  Zero people knew that West Melbourne was getting a Tesla Supercharger as we spoke.  Hopefully, we can get the local news to cover a grand opening and really explain how much extra business it will bring to the city from out of town Tesla drivers as they shop and eat while waiting for a charge.  Remember to check our upcoming events page to see where we’ll be next to see our cars and ask us questions.  Or just email us directly with your questions!

Here’s a link to the full photo album with pictures from the event: https://photos.app.goo.gl/RIQmfYVAUv7qdsoN2

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FIT Treat or Treat 2017

The Residence Life Sustainability club invited us to bring our EVs to their annual Treat or Treat event.  This year they had set up each dorm building as a different themed haunted house with different levels of fright.  There were almost 3000 people there so this was by far one of the biggest events we’ve attended yet!  We were invited to help spread the ecological and economical savings our cars have given us so far to go with the overall sustainability theme of the event.  One of the main ideas was for the children to get some trick or treat practice before the big day on Halloween so there were other vendors and exhibitors there with fun games and things for kids to “win” candy.  We just had free candy to go with our free information for the parents and older kids all about driving electric.  Everyone loved being able to see the cars right next to our tent and all seemed surprised to know they were our personal cars.  Most people we talk to assume we are some sort of salespeople trying to sell them cars.  We always explain how these are the cars we drive every day to work, school, the mall, and the movies so we are the people to answer your questions.  The costumes were awesome and everyone had a great time talking electric vehicles to so many people.

Here’s the full album of photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/fOIw32xOomhO3fZs1

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FIT First Year Experience

A couple of us took a long lunch break to showcase our personal EVs at the FIT campus to show to the First Year students during their course on Sustainability.  We didn’t have a lot of different makes and models to show since it was during the work day but we had plenty of information and handouts for them to read about later.  The students had lots of great questions and we were able to answer them from our years of real world knowledge of driving them every day.  We let them sit in the cars and look under the hood and explained how little it costs us for fuel and maintenance compared to a regular car.  We also opened their eyes to the ever growing used market for these electric vehicles and plug in hybrids that are coming off lease or get traded in for newer models.

We are now looking forward to the next event at FIT for their Treat or Treat night!

Full album of photos taken during this event: https://photos.app.goo.gl/dGMI4GMLKLY78ygl2

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October Monthly EV Meetup

This month we met up at the Dixie Crossroads restaurant in Titusville.  The main idea was to show the owner and manager how much extra business installing a charging station would bring.  We explained how they are in a great location by showing them the plugshare map and how they are just off the interstate and highway where there aren’t many options for charging.  They were VERY interested when we told them about the FREE to install, FREE to use, FREE to maintain, and they pay you back for all the power used each month charging stations from Volta Charging: http://www.voltacharging.com/

We went over the numbers from our big, annual, nation wide National Plug in Day event we had on Sept 16 in Satellite Beach: Almost 350 total attendees, right around 42 electric vehicles, and we gave just under 120 test ride and drives.  We all agreed this was not bad at all considering we had the hurricane come through the weekend before!

Then we went over the events in our calendar to make sure everyone knew about them and was planning to attend.  As always, make sure to check our Upcoming Events page to see where we’ll be if you want to ask us questions, take  look inside and even possibly take a ride or drive in on of our personal electric vehicles.

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National Drive Electric Week 2017 Recap

The 2014 event took place  in Melbourne, while 2015 and 2016 took place in Satellite Beach and this year we once again held our 2017 National Drive Electric Week event at the Schechter Center in Satellite Beach .  The big note from this event is that it was planned for the weekend right after hurricane Irma caused a lot of problems throughout Florida.  Due to the hurricane, we didn’t have quite as many electric vehicles show up that were registered but we were still amazed that we had 42 over the course of the day.  Some showed up early then left later on to do hurricane clean up, and others did some clean up early but still showed up later staying to the end.

Let’s just say it. We were blown away by the number of EV owners that volunteered their time to show their car and talk to attendees all about them and answer their questions this year.  We had plenty of owners that gave test rides and some owners let lucky attendees drive their EV around the block.  Everyone agreed that being able to not only see the cars and talk to the owners but  to actually go riding or driving in them really showed the attendees just how great EVs are. Current owners talked facts and figures letting attendees know that these vehicles are available and affordable convincing some that an EV could realistically be their next car.

We opened the event with a speech from Steve Osmer, vice mayor of Satellite Beach.  He kicked off the festivities by reading the official proclamation signed and sealed by the mayor. He  also took the time during his speech to say a few words about how this event lines up exactly with their environmental and green efforts brought forward by the city’s sustainability board.

Everyone loved the FREE raffle prizes that were donated by some of our very own Space Coast EV Drivers club members, Schneider Electric, and Nissan Leaf. The kids especially loved the Simon says game allowing them a chance to grab a few prizes while having some fun.

We had two food trucks out of the four that were registered to be there.  The hurricane made it hard to find generators and messed up the food supply for some of them.  Both the Coastal Kitchen and Good Moos food trucks sold out of most of their food and were a big hit. Everyone loved the ice cream and smoothies from Good Moos to help stave off the heat from the great, 90+ degree sunny weather we had that day.

Sadly, we had a few exhibitors that had to cancel due to the hurricane as well but we still had plenty to help make a great event such as: Melbourne BMW, Solar Energy Systems of Brevard, Citizens Climate Lobby, Florida Institute of Technology Engineering Electric Race Team, Space Coast Progressive Alliance, and Brevard Solar.  Much thanks to all of our exhibitors that came out and a very big thanks to Denis DeSousa from Melbourne BMW who sponsored the water/soda tent, supplying our volunteers and attendees alike with refreshments in the heat.  We love having exhibitors as part of the event and the benefit of having solar installers on hand is being able to show attendees how some of our members who already have solar on their house drive everywhere using pure sunlight as fuel. True zero emissions!

The Kennedy Space Center once again brought their Lunar Rover to display as it is also an electric vehicle.  Kids and adults alike loved to sit on it and take selfies.  We weren’t expecting many attendees to show up due to the hurricane but we counted close to 350!  Thanks to everyone that brought their EVs and everyone who came out to see and learn about them we had a VERY successful event.  We’ll see everyone at our next event in October.  Make sure to check our Upcoming Events page to see where we’ll be next so you can come out and see and learn about all the different makes and models.

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Here’s the link to the full album of photos taken from the event: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZNgwjxHF2NyzAQB93

Join Us for National Drive Electric Week 2017

page01It’s time for the big event we look forward to every year: National Drive Electric Week!  This is the time for everyone in and around the Space Coast of Florida to come out and take a ride in a Tesla and every other available make and model electric vehicle.  These are our personal cars we drive every day to work and school and have driven them for many years and almost a million combine miles.  Every car on display or available for ride and drives will be able to plug in and drive on pure electricity.  This does include plug in hybrids like the Chevy Volt and Ford CMax Energi that have built in gas generators for long trips in addition to 100% electric only cars like the Tesla and Nissan Leaf.  There will be at least 14 different makes and models to see and take for a ride around the block to get the full EV experience.  To show everyone just how easy and convenient it is to plug in your car every day, we’ll have some charging stations and portable chargers on site to let attendees plug and unplug our cars!  We’ll have a big tent set up for water and shade for public Q&A. Since we drive these cars every day we are definitely the people to answer your burning EV questions.  We’ll have food trucks, music and raffles for small prizes!  There will be environmental exhibitors such as solar power installers, the Marine Resources Council, and the Turtle Coast Sierra Club.  We’ll also have the new Electric Fun Rides right next door with electric bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and hoverboards ready for you to take a spin.  So come on out, check out all the different makes and models of electric vehicles, take a ride around the block in some others and enter the raffle for prizes.   This day is all about electric vehicles and how fun and easy they are to drive and to spread the word on all the savings on fuel and maintenance and their environmental benefits of clean air.  We’ll have our members on hand that can show you how they installed solar panels on their house and now charge their electric car with pure sunlight!  Make sure to register to attend right now, today!  Go here for our official event page and click the Register button: https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=917

July EV Meetup Recap

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Today we met at the Squid Lips bar and grill because it is right next to the charging station at the Eau Gallie Library.  Al Lococo gave us an explanation of the different adapters he has collected or built himself over the years for his electric vehicles.  He uses a lot of them on road trips when plugging in at the various hotels he stays at that allow him to get a nice, overnight charge while he sleeps.  As more and more hotels and businesses install the standard, J1772 plug charging stations, it will be MUCH easier and become commonplace for those staying overnight at hotels to charge their EV.  Remember, if you are a business owner and want to attract more business a simple investment in an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) is a no-brainer.  Just check our charging station info page for all the info you need for the various types, sizes, and configurations of charging stations.  You can also call or email us if you have any immediate questions on all things EV related.

We also had a guest from the Brevard Environment and Sustainability Team visit our meetup and tell us all about the upcoming city council meeting at Melbourne City Hall on July 25 at 6 pm.  We will be there to show support for the city to create an environmental and sustainability committee and to pledge goals for renewable energy and electric car fleets for city use.  We can show how much we save and how little money we spend on maintenance on our personal vehicles that would translate to electric city vehicles.

We are still pushing to make sure everyone signs up for National Drive Electric Week in Satellite Beach on September 16 and tell everyone you know to sign up too.  The newspapers and radio like to see that hundreds of people have signed up for an event to get really excited.  In 2015 we had almost 200 attendees.  In 2016 we had almost 300 attendees.  We are hoping to get almost 400 or more this year!  Make sure everyone you know signs up to attend our event to ride in a Tesla, or any other make model EV we’ll have there.  From the Nissan Leaf to the Chevy Volt, the new Chevy Bolt, BMW i3 and i8, the Kia Soul EV, the Fiat 500e, and the Ford C-Max Energi.  Below is a list of all of the current numbers of members and makes/models we hope will be there at the event!

Current Membership as of July 2, 2017

Total EVs:
80
Total Members:
94
EV Models:
RAV 4 EV 1
Nissan Leaf 21
Mitsubishi iMiEV 1
Ford Fusion Energi 1
Chevy Volt 22
Ford Focus EV 1
Tesla Roadster 1
Tesla Model S 11
Ford CMax Energi 2
Plug in Prius 3
BMW i3 2
BMW i8 1
Tesla Model X 2
Zero S Motorcycle 1
Chevy Spark EV 2
Toyota Celica Conversion 1
Austin Healey Conversion 1
Fiat 500e 1
Kia Soul EV 1
Zero FXS Motorcycle 1
GotWay MCM2s 1
Chevy Bolt 2